Marketing & Business Profile : Dasheen (Colocasia esculenta)

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Dasheen is sometimes called taro, eddo, or malanga, although malanga is grouped as Xanthosoma sp. Dasheen is a tall growing tropical plant that resembles the ornamental elephant ear plant and the cocoyam.

As a root tuber, the central corm may be as large as 3.6 kg but sizes of 1 - 1.3 kg are required by the fresh local and export markets. In

Jamaica small quantities are used to make dasheen chips.

The corm is rich in carbohydrates and is mainly eaten boiled. The young shoot s and leaves are also used as a vegetable.

Why invest in Dasheen?

  • Available markets
  • Year round production
  • Production can be timed to meet demand
  • Good planting material available
  • Low investment cost
  • High yielding

Production issues

The main production areas for dasheen are found in Portland, St. James, St. Elizabeth, Westmoreland and St. Catherine. There are two (2) types of dasheen based on the production environment; dryland and wetland. Wetland dasheen produces many basal suckers which are broken off during reaping leaving open “eyes” that are prone to spoilage. Dryland dasheen produces fewer of these basal suckers and therefore are not prone to spoil so easily. As a result, exporters prefer the dryland dasheen.

The investment

The initial investment cost for an economical return is $185,000.00 for 1.0 hectare of dasheen production. Expected yield is 17045 kg per

hectare under optimum conditions. The crop matures in 7– 9 months when the aerial shoot begins to dry down. After the central corm is reaped, the suckers are removed and can be replanted. In addition the removal of the top of the corm can be used as planting material.

Market Potential

Dasheen enter the local fresh and export markets and small volumes to the processing industry for the production of dasheen chips. The local consumption of dasheen is good as the product is seen in the supermarkets, green groceries and municipal markets. However larger quantities are purchased by exporters destined for Europe, USA , and Canada . Jamaica competes with St. Vincent and Dominica for these markets.

Table 1. Export data for Dasheen (2000 - 2004)*







Volume exported (kg)






Value ($)






*Data source - STATIN.

Market Price

This varies dependent on the season, the supply and demand situation and the market sources;

Fresh local market: $77.00 - 88.00 / kg

Export market: $44.00 - 77.00 / kg

Processing market: $ 33.00 - 44.00 / kg.

Requirements for the export market

Dasheen corms sold for the export trade must be free from all insects e.g. mealy bugs and from excess soil. The end must be cut clean leaving about 1.5 cm on the corm. All hairs and scale leaves must be removed therefore cleaning the corm, leaving it fairly smooth and well-trimmed. The shoot must be cut off close to its base leaving a small area of exposed corm tissue.

Corms are transported in crocus bags to the packaging house where they are washed and dipped in a fungicidal solution to retard spoilage during transport to the overseas market. The corms are air-dried and then placed in carton boxes packed with coir dust.

The versatility of the product in to three different markets render the crop a good investment. All necessary linkages must be in place before and during production of the crop in order to ensure sale at maturity.